The John C. Gordon Photographic Negatives Collection documents the history of San José and Santa Clara Valley from 1905-1950
(bulk 1920-1945). The collection consists of approximately 15,000 glass plate, acetate and nitrate negatives. The negatives
are arranged by index number, format and topic, and include a variety of subjects that illustrate everyday life in the region.
This collection documents the changes in area business ventures that include agriculture, fruit canning and processing, banking,
local businesses, aeronautics, railroads, and other manufacturing businesses. This collection is arranged into two series:
Series I: Indexed Negatives – Acetate & Nitrate, c. 1926-1945; and Series II: Topical Negatives – Glass, Acetate & Nitrate,
John C. Gordon (1887-1967) was born in Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin on January 3, 1887, the first son of Reverend G. W. Gordon.
Reverend Gordon earned his living as a photographer and as a Methodist preacher. John Gordon attended Albion College in Michigan,
and later took a teaching position in Nebraska. On June 8, 1910, he married Mina Eleanor Schnackenberg and following their
wedding reception, the couple moved to Campbell, California. Their first residence was in a prune orchard located on Budd
Avenue, and within a few years they relocated to Mayellen Avenue near West San Carlos Street. Gordon earned his early living
working at the local hardware store, while raising his young family.
70.0 Linear feet,
The John C. Gordon Photographic Negatives Collection is comprised of several film formats and mediums, including large format
glass plate negatives and cellulose nitrate film. Glass plate negatives in this collection have been moved and stored separately.
Due to its considerable volume and external constraints on department staffing, budget, and project time, the cellulose nitrate
film of this collection has remained interfiled with cellulose acetate film. Glass and nitrate film is especially sensitive
to environmental conditions and physical handling, and can be easily damaged or become hazardous to human health. Frequent
handling and removal from a temperature controlled environment can also accelerate the decomposition of film. Consequently,
the John C. Gordon Photographic Negatives Collection will be accessed by appointment only at the sole discretion of the Director
of SJSU Special Collections & Archives. To prevent possible exposure to degraded nitrate film, patrons approved for research
will use respiratory, eye, and hand protection. Patrons using the collection will follow staff directions on how to properly
handle and view film for research.